Tiffany Pinkstone Brings Art From Christie's to Kowloon
Tiffany Pinkstone is the director of the Sovereign Art Foundation, which holds the annual Sovereign Asian Art Prize. She tells Jessica Wei about the foundation and the benefits of encouraging arts therapy in the community.
So how does the Sovereign Art Foundation work? We were set up in 2003, which is when I joined. There are two main aims: To recognize and support mid-career artists from the region, and to raise as much money as we can for charity. The two go very much hand-in-hand because we run the art prize, which is where we find the artists, and then we auction those pieces to raise money for charity. So the artists get 50 percent and the charity gets 50 percent.
How do you usually find the artists? We have a panel of nominators who are made up of independent curators, from art critics and professors to museum directors and curators. We usually have about 300-odd entries, and they get narrowed down to the top 30 by a panel of independent judges. We’ll have our fundraiser on June 3, where we’ll announce our first prize winner, and then we’ll have the auction [at] Christie’s.
What exactly is your charitable work? Last year, we took the bull by the horns and decided to create our own grassroots program. We hired some arts teachers and a program manager to develop arts therapy based workshops for disadvantaged children around Hong Kong. We now run seven weekly workshops and we’ve partnered with the University of Hong Kong. Students who are studying arts therapy come to our workshops, sit with the teachers and help us fine-tune the program so we can best suit the needs of the children.
Where are your centers located? There are two centers in Sham Shui Po, and they serve economically disadvantaged kids. A lot of these children come from migrant families: their parents might be illegal immigrants. But we also run programs in schools in Tseung Kwan O and Kowloon City which cater towards children with autism and severe ADHD. Those classes are a lot smaller. We also have a program in Tai Wai and Wong Tai Sin.
How do your workshops differ between the different groups? I think the themes remain the same, but the attention we give the children is different. The kind of themes we run are about awareness of self. It starts with a program called “I, Me and Myself,” and we look into the community in which they live. We take them on a little excursion around their area. Then we get them to work in groups to create a model of what their ideal community would be. But we also take them out to country parks, where some of these children have never been. We’ll make sculptures with pieces of leaves and twigs. It’s to give them added exposure [to the world] as well as getting them to think more about themselves, to help them build up their confidence.
What benefits have you seen? Take our classes in Kowloon City—there are 10 children in that class with autism, and just by providing a structure you can see it really helps them focus. What we’d like to do next is try to bring the caregiver in to these classes. A lot of these children come from poor homes and their caregiver might not know how to deal with them and their issues. We’d like to bring some of these exercises back into the home, so they can apply these principles to help their child.